Q: When did you decide to become a writer? What’s your genre?
I was 14 when I realized that there was no reason I couldn’t write books just like all the books I loved reading. I started right away, wrote a 1000 page epic fantasy novel, tried and failed to get it published, and went right on to the next, which was a mostly realistic story set in the town I lived in. I don’t “have a genre” any more than I “have a mood.” My genres change from story to story, or at best, they combine several.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
From looking closely at the world and people around me, noticing patterns, feeling desires, sensing mysteries. Traveling, dreaming, movies, music, and other books. From everything.
Q: Do you ever get writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
I get it mostly between books, when I’m trying to get a new story started and I haven’t built the emotional momentum yet. That’s hard and I haven’t written enough books to have found a solution. When it happens deeper into the process, when I get stuck on a plot hole or can’t find the right approach to a scene, I usually find that physical activity helps break up the sediment and get the thoughts flowing again. Running in particular has been really helpful for me, the combination of fresh oxygen and the rush of scenery seems to clear my brain and turbo-charge it to break through those blockages. It’s remarkably effective for something so blunt and non-intellectual.
Q: What is the hardest thing for you about writing?
Generating the story. Ideas, concepts, and feelings all come easily to me, but inventing the chain of events that allow those things to unspool into a coherent story is always a challenge. Sometimes it feels like the road is going to evaporate under me while I’m walking. There’s always the fear that the answers just won’t come to me. But so far, it’s always ended up working out, so maybe I need to trust myself.
Q: Are you currently reading any books?
I just started The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. Never Let Me Go devastated me so I go into this with high hopes, even though it seems very different in tone and subject. I’m a big fan of writers like him who weave “genre” elements into literary material without making a big deal out of it, because it shouldn’t be a big deal. A story is a story. The lines we draw between “literary” and “genre” are reductive and limiting and should be destroyed.
Q: Can you sum up the Warm Bodies series in just a few sentences?
A dead man finds his way back to life, falls in love with a young revolutionary, and together they search for a cure to the metaphysical plague that has destroyed civilization, while fighting the bizarre corporate militia that seeks to harness those forces.
Q: How did it feel when you were finally able to share your novel, The Living, with the world?
It was like telling a secret that I’d been keeping my entire life.